Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Presidential Candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that the Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz is sacrificing his impartiality in return for job security.
The former president made the remarks during an interview given to local media outlet CNM yesterday.
Nasheed claimed that the PG had fashioned criminal charges against people in such a fashion as to appease government-aligned groups in the parliament, thus ensuring he can remain in his position.
By law, the Prosecutor General’s Office is an institution operationally independent from the executive, but one that is required to follow the guidelines laid down by the Attorney General.
The PG is appointed by parliament for a term of five years and can be removed through a vote of no-confidence by a simple majority.
Referring to the recent prosecution of parliamentary members of his party, Nasheed claimed that the Muizz was failing to maintain impartiality.
“For an example, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, the MP for Henveiru Dhekunu constituency, is facing charges for possessing alcohol and narcotics. Similarly, a similar kind of thing was found from the suit case of Ahmed ‘Sun travel’ Shiyam [Leader of Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) currently supporting Yameen Abdul Gayoom],” he said.
“But the Prosecutor General did not notice that both cases had the same offence,” Nasheed continued.
However, Nasheed said that he did not believe that this was happening because of political affiliation, but rather due to a flaw within the constitutional mechanism, wherein a dominant political group in a parliament can easily decide upon the fate of an appointee such as the PG.
“Therefore, this is not about deciding legal matters. In my view, if decisions are being made based on who controls the parliament majority, I think it is rather more of a people’s decision. But still, people from the legal fraternity would maintain that matters such as prosecution and sentencing is independent of parliamentary majority,” he said.
Senior MDP figures facing charges
Nasheed’s remarks come at a time where several senior MDP figures including members of its parliamentary group are facing criminal charges and police investigations.
Nasheed himself was also charged for his decision to arrest Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, but the case is currently on hold after Nasheed’s legal team appealed a series of procedural discrepancies and sought a stay order from High Court to withhold the proceedings until it had ruled on the matter.
The High Court, however, is yet to hold a hearing of the case following the sudden suspension of the court’s Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef.
Currently MDP MPs, Ali Waheed, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Abdulla Jabir, and Imthiyaz Fahmy are all facing criminal prosecutions while MDP MP Alhan Fahmy is being investigated by police over the leaked sex-tape of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed.
MP Ali Waheed and members of his family– including his mother, father and wife – were also summoned to police in August as part of an investigation into a corruption case concerning the buying of a house in Male.
Last Sunday, Criminal Court conducted the first hearing into the case of MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Abdulla Jabir allegedly being caught in possession of alcohol last November.
Criminal Court Media Official Ahmed Mohamed Manik told Minivan News in August that Jabir and Ghafoor were charged with the offence of smuggling alcohol into the country and consuming it, as well as possession of cannabis and objecting to urine testing.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiza Have also also charged for objecting to take urine tests, said Manik at the time.
Additionally, the son of Nasheed’s former special envoy, Mohamed Hamdhoon Zaki, has been charged for trafficking illegal drugs into the country – the penalty for which is 25 years imprisonment and a fine of up to MVR10 million (US$650,000).
In a statement released by the party last week, the MDP alleged that recent police summons and prosecution of its senior figures – including parliamentary group members – were part of the government’s plan to obstruct its presidential campaign.
An official from the Prosecutor General’s Office declined to make a comment on the matter.